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POLITICAL & SECURITY ALERTS - Lebanon Concerned that Israel Could Reach its Oil

Ghana’s Jubilee Production Hits 110,000 b/d, Amid Political Crisis

Ghana’s giant offshore Jubilee field continues its steady increase in production, now reaching 110,000 barrels per day, and its operator, Tullow Oil PLC is eyeing a rise in production to 120,000 b/d after September, when a gas handling constraint is expected to be finished on the FPSO (floating production, storage and offloading) facility. Gas production facilities are also slated to go online in 2014. Tullow is looking at 2016 for the launch of development plans for its Tweneboa-Enyenra-Ntomme (TEN) fields, the plan for which was approved in late May (as we noted in a previous briefing).  But everyone’s question right now is how will the political situation impact oil and gas investments, as the Supreme Court hears a petition to overturn the results of the December 2012 presidential elections. This is an unprecedented move in this region, and is being heralded as a victory for democracy that the Supreme Court is even considering the case of the losing political party. However, a decision to overturn the election results would be highly destabilizing. It is our assessment that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of continued stability, especially at a time when the oil and gas stakes are very high.

Lebanon Concerned that Israel Could Reach its Oil and Gas

Lebanon’s Energy Minister, Gebran Bassil, is urging the Cabinet to address the potential for Israel to reach Lebanese oil through a new well from ma field about 4 kilometers from the maritime border. Bassil says that new horizontal and vertical drilling technology could give Israel the ability to drill into Lebanese territory from its new wells. While this is true, Bassil is using this to raise the alarm bells over any further delays in issuing tenders for Lebanon’s own oil and gas acreage. The process is currently on hold while Lebanon grapples with political instability and has postponed elections for a new Cabinet. Bassil wants an exceptional Cabinet session to pass the necessary decrees to allow tender process to move forward with an interim government in place. 

Nabucco Pipeline Officially Dead in the Water

Nabucco Pipeline

Azerbaijan’s decision to supply the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) as a priority finally puts the much-beleaguered Nabucco pipeline to bed. TAP--which will go through Greece, Albania and Italy to deliver gas to Europe--is led by Norway’s Statoil. (The Nabucco-West pipeline—the latest incarnation of Nabucco—would have gone through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria). BP—part of the Azeri gas Shah Deniz consortium—also favored TAP over Nabucco for some time, along with Statoil. The two viewed the TAP project as a lower-cost, non-strategic solution for diverting gas from Shah Deniz, which could not accommodate both pipelines. Essentially, economy has won out over geopolitical strategy here. TAP will carry 10 billion cubic meters of Azeri gas annually beginning in 2019. Nabucco was more strategic because the “Nabucco countries” (those through which the pipeline would have run and those whom the gas would have been supplied) are those most dependent on Russia’s Gazprom. TAP does not alleviate this dependence. TAP’s shareholders are Statoil (42.5%), Swiss Axpo (42.5%), Germany’s E.ON Ruhrgas (15%). Belgium-based Fluxys will also join the consortium soon.

Mongolia Elections Eases Resource Nationalism Pressure

Mongolia's incumbent President Elbegdorj Tsakhia won a second term in office in 26 June elections. The vote was narrow, with the incumbent just scraping by with a majority of 50.23% of the vote, and avoiding a run-off. Investors should be satisfied, particularly in the energy and mining sectors. The specter of resource nationalism was looming in Mongolia, but the pressure on the incumbent to address this will now be reduced somewhat now that his victory has been secured. (In the coming weeks, we will feature an in-depth executive report on the opportunities and pitfalls of investing in Mongolia).

French President Ousts Environment Minister

French President Francois Hollande has ousted Environment and Energy Minister Delphine Batho after she criticized budget plans for the next fiscal year. The 2014 budget cut the Environment Ministry’s funds by about 7%. It’s an awkward time to change environment and energy ministers, as a key debate in France is focused on new energy policy. France is heavily dependent on nuclear energy and a new policy would seek to shift that balance. Bathos is being replaced by Socialist Philippe Martin, who is a member of the National Assembly’s shale gas study group. Batho was opposed to hydraulic fracturing, which was banned in France under Nikolas Sarkozy.

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